The Stevenson softball team is ready to return to the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth tournament this season and eagerly preparing to win, according to head coach Julia Culotta, who is now in her third season with the team. Prior to taking on the head coaching position at Stevenson, Culotta spent five years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Division I UMBC.
The Mustangs have not advanced to the conference championship semifinals for the last two seasons. However, this season they are ready to make a statement and break through the middle of the pack in the conference.
Culotta explained the improvements the team has made in gearing up for this season: “This team has improved their fitness, strength and fundamental technique since the fall. We have really embraced the notion of being a well-rounded athlete.”
She added that she is educating herself on the mental aspect of the game as well.
“I hope to be able to give our student-athletes more tools on how to cope and be successful in anxiety-filled situations. I would really like for us to gel as a team and not have to think of communication as an obstacle,” she said.
Erin Stephey, senior shortstop and outfielder, said that the incoming freshman players have been great at filling in the gaps the graduating seniors left from last year, which has been a big improvement for the team.
According to gomustangsports.com, Kayla Briles, sophomore outfielder, recorded three combined hits as the Mustangs dropped a non-conference doubleheader versus 11th-ranked Randolph-Macon, 7-1 and 11-3, on March 2.
Briles finished three for five at the plate with a pair of runs. The sophomore was caught stealing a base for the first time in her career and the first time out of 26 attempts, according to gomustangsports.com.
Briles said she is hopeful about reaching the MAC championship this season: “After coming in last year as a freshman and this year as a sophomore, I know what to expect in the conference. I think we have the ability to make the playoffs and go all the way.”
Culotta said that her team may take a bit to get rolling toward the road to the conference championship, but their strong pitching, speed, solid defense and doubles power will make it possible.
The Mustangs will return on March 14 in a double-header against York College (Pa.). First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.